PITTSBURGH - Former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was sentenced Tuesday to house arrest and community service in soup kitchens, and ordered to send handwritten apologies for her crimes on photographs of herself in handcuffs to every judge in the state.
She was given no prison time.
Allegheny County Court Judge Lester Nauhaus sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest, with two years on probation to follow.
A jury convicted Melvin and her sister Janine Orie on Feb. 21 of using judicial staff, as well as aides to another sister, former State Sen. Jane Orie, to work on Melvin's 2003 and 2009 campaigns for the Supreme Court. Melvin, 56, was found guilty of conspiracy, theft of services, and misapplication of government funds. She resigned in March, leaving the high court with six members - three Democrats and three Republicans. Gov. Corbett is expected to appoint an interim justice soon.
As part of her sentence, Melvin must serve in a soup kitchen three times a week and can otherwise leave her house only for church.
Nauhaus ordered her handcuffed and photographed, and ordered copies sent to all Pennsylvania judges at Melvin's cost. The photo was taken, but Nauhaus stopped officials from making it public pending action he might take Wednesday.
The sentence also includes $55,000 in fines, a prohibition on using the title of "justice," and handwritten apologies to her former staffers and Jane Orie's.
"I don't believe that Joan Melvin is an evil person, but I do believe that her arrogance is stunning," Nauhaus said.
He sentenced Janine Orie to a year of house arrest to be followed by two years' probation.
Prosecutor Lawrence Claus had asked Nauhaus to give both women prison time. "We're talking about perversion of a court office," Claus said. "We're talking about perversion of staff."
When it was her turn to speak, Melvin faced her children in the gallery. "I'm sorry for the loss, pain, and suffering you have endured for the last five years," she said.
Later, Nauhaus referred to that statement. "This isn't a parking ticket," the judge said. "Your children's mother is a convicted felon."